Teresa Doherty, Joint Head, RCN Library & Archive Service and RCN Professional Lead for History of Nursing
The UKAHN Bulletin
Volume 10 (1) 2022


The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Library and Archive collections form the largest nursing-specific collection in Europe.  The collections contain material produced by the RCN and its members, but also materials from outside the RCN, created by other nursing bodies and non-members, including publications, personal papers, photographs and badges.  Within its holdings are over 800 oral history interviews, many of which have been deposited by historians working on topics from fever hospitals to learning disability nurses.

Access to the historical collections is available to all researchers not just members of the RCN, and in recent years our digitisation programme and our exhibitions and events have brought the collections to a wider public audience.

The focus of this article is one exceptional oral history collection which sits within the wider collection.  It comprises 355 interviews made over thirty years, recording 625 hours of lived experience, detailing over one-hundred years of history of nursing in the UK.  Created by the Royal College of Nursing’s (RCN) History of Nursing Forum (HONF), this collection has been made by nurses interviewing nurses and nursing staff, creating and preserving their experiences within their community of professional practice.  The RCN funds the oral histories by meeting costs such as travel, training and transcription; funding that is provided by member subscriptions and applied for by the HONF committee as part of its member activities.


In the 1970s a group of RCN members started to explore the history of nursing together.  They wanted to establish a focus for history of nursing activities within the RCN, so in 1983 nurse member Dr Monica Baly founded the RCN History of Nursing Forum (HONF).[1]

RCN member specialist forums focus on key clinical areas, so this collection developed within a vibrant community of practicing nurses.[2]  Interestingly the term “history of nursing” is used rather than “nursing history” because the latter is used as a clinical term meaning a patient’s history of care.

Although nursing has been the largest single profession in the UK since 1919, at a national and international level the history of nursing is rarely represented, outside a small group of interested researchers.  Wider developments in labour, social and women’s history shaped HONF’s desire for an explicit “history of nursing”.  Led by innovators such as Barbara Mortimer, Dr Monica Baly and Prof Anne-Marie Rafferty, they demanded that just as the practice of medicine and nursing were very different disciplines, so the “history of nursing” and “history of medicine” demanded new and different approaches.

The Forum met to discuss historical research, encouraged members to publish, and held events such as lectures and conferences.   The Forum’s desire to ensure the legacy of nursing pioneers was captured and preserved prompted them to begin creating oral history interviews in 1986.  This innovative collection was heavily influenced by the women’s, social and labour history movements of the time, which also began to use oral history to meet the challenge of historical invisibility.

The early HONF interviews, which were pioneering in the UK, preceded the creation of the British Library’s National Life Stories Collection (NLS) which came a few years later.  Like the NLS projects the HONF aimed to gather a variety of perspectives, covering all nursing activities and specialisms, recording life stories from all parts of the hierarchy: from nurse directors and professors, through to front line nurses working across the UK in a range of care settings. This included nurses with prominent public profiles, or significant published outputs, as well as those with enlightening stories to tell from a lifetime spent in caring.

The essential criteria for inclusion that an interviewee had to be a nurse working in the UK, irrespective of RCN membership, was later widened to include health care support workers working in the UK. These people are underrepresented in the collection and are being encouraged by HONF to share their life stories.

Many of the interviews are prompted by self-selection or nomination; individual nurses who wanted to share their professional experiences contacted the Forum or were nominated by family or friends.  This group has been complemented by the addition of interviews created by forum members in their research. Professor Anne Marie Rafferty’s early work on nurse leaders ensured interviews with nursing icons such as Dame Kathleen Raven and Baroness McFarlane were added to the collection.  This approach of including ‘ordinary’ people as well as specialists and leaders across the nursing team remains a core value for HONF which want to ensure a wide range of people are interviewed.

RCN Archives

In 1986, the RCN’s 70th birthday celebrations prompted the appointment of the first RCN archivist, lobbied for by HONF.  Also, in 1986 the first oral history interview was deposited with the RCN Archive, cementing the relationship between HONF and the archivist as they embarked on the creation of this collection.

The interview was with Annie Altschul (Archive Reference T8) – an Austrian wartime refugee who led huge changes in mental health nursing in the UK in the post-war period. She was interviewed by Anne-Marie Rafferty.

This interview crystalised three principals which shaped the future collection:

  • that the interviewer should be a HONF member, bringing with them the clinical knowledge and professional approach that underpins nursing;
  • that the interviewer should be trained in oral history practices by the RCN archivist, enabling individual nurses to express their unique personal reflections on nursing and their lived experience;
  • that the interviews were created with the express intention of being preserved in the RCN archive’s oral history collection, to be made available for research; accompanied by appropriate copyright and access agreements.

The first oral history interviews preceded the appointment of the first permanent archivist, but once appointed, the collecting, cataloguing and access to this collection quickly became part of the archivist’s role.  A strong partnership developed between HONF and the archivist which has remained constant over the past thirty years. This has enabled the oral history collection to develop as a continuous project during those years which is a unique achievement.  To expand the number of interviewers , from the earliest days of the project, the archivist has provided training, including advice on formats and interview technique. This training has developed over the thirty years, embedding advice from the British Library Sound Archive and the Oral History Society.

In the early years HONF and the archivist discussed whether to use set questions. It was agreed that specific questions would make the interviews too prescriptive. Instead, a set of prompts for the interview were agreed.  These were incredibly useful and are still in use today.  The prompts ensured interviews retained the intimacy of a conversation between nurses but allowed the collection to swiftly develop with quality and cohesion.  This has made it a unique community led oral history collection, offering a rich and valuable resource which appeals to a range of researchers.

The prompts, which form the structure of the interview relate to family and background; nurse training; work and professional development; nursing organisations; honours, awards, and events; retirement (where applicable); and reflections on nursing.

Archival Management

The continued employment of an archivist protected the many benefits of this community-led oral history collection, including consistent formats, rights management, data protection and managed access.

Preservation of and access to oral histories is challenging, not least because of the myriad of formats the interviews can come in, as technology evolves.  In the 1990s, a pre-digital era, the British Library selected interviews from this collection to add to their National Life Stories Collection (NLS).  At the time this was a simple but effective step to ensure preservation and access to copies of 35 taped interviews and transcripts (72 items in total).  These remain accessible in both the RCN and NLS collections.

From 2008 to 2010 the archivist led a Heritage Lottery Fund project which enabled the digitisation of all the interviews and the creation of transcripts.  The RCN archive team converted the analogue items in this collection to consistent digital formats (wav files, with mp3 copies) which helps with both preservation of the collection and access to users.  The project also created verbatim transcriptions (Word documents) for interviews in the collection up to 2010.

Today both the HONF and the wider collection comprises a mix of analogue magnetic tapes, original digital recordings, paper and born digital documents.  The original formats are retained, but no longer used for access.  To ensure the preservation of the collection all originals are preserved in an accredited archive store in line with archival standards.  From 2018 the digital files have been stored in the RCN Digital Archive, enabling the team to improve searching for and access to the entire oral history collection.

Accessing the Collection

Due to copyright and technical challenges the content of the HOFN collection is not openly available to search or use via the internet, but it is catalogued within the RCN Library catalogue which is freely available online.[3] The catalogue enables simple searches by the individual’s name, by date of the interview and by key word.  Most entries contain a brief overview of the interview with summary biographical and career information.  Catalogue details have been shared with The National Archives and The Archives Hub. RCN archives also has a dedicated web page to make the collection more visible via internet searches.[4]

Researchers wanting to access to the interviews are actively encouraged to contact the RCN Archive ahead of requests to listen to interviews.  The archivist can carry out very detailed searches using the transcripts if contacted with details of the research topic – this helps pinpoint relevant sections of the interviews.  Free public access to the collection is available by appointment. Copies of the interviews are made available on site at RCN Libraries; interviews all have transcriptions, which enhance searching and improve accessibility for users.  Researchers can now listen to the interviews in Edinburgh or London whilst reading the transcript on a Kindle, which helps researchers understand the interviews more fully.

A helpful feature of the HONF collection is that the interviews are created with the express purpose of sharing experiences.  Only a very few of these interviews have closure periods placed on them.  Most interviews are open for anyone to listen to.  Deposit agreements mean that reproducing extracts of interviews, in publications or as audio, is permissible if a license is agreed with RCN Archives.

Collecting, Exhibitions and Active Collecting

The Forum continues to respond to requests for interviews. Many of those ‘self-selecting’ nurses are passionate about nursing and keen to share their lived experience.  Enabling ‘ordinary’ nurses to remember their professional lives and share it with a professional peer is in itself an invaluable activity.   To be able to capture that conversation and create a key resource for future researchers makes it a very special interaction.   Nursing is often undervalued, especially at an individual level; taking time to reflect on someone’s achievements and experiences allows for a moment of pride.

Self-selection relies on serendipity, but this will not build a collection that reflects a profession with such broad experiences.  In more recent years the Forum has reviewed the collection and identified gaps to be filled through new active collecting projects.

One active collecting project begun in recent years is to invite RCN Fellows for interview.  Once a year around six nurse leaders are awarded fellowship of the Royal College. The fellowship scheme began in 1976 and so far over 50 of the 250 fellows have been interviewed.  Fellows include practitioners, researchers, educationalists and leaders who share the RCN’s commitment to advancing the art and science of nursing and the improvement of health care. Nominees are put forward by peers to acknowledge their experience, accomplishments and dedication to the nursing profession.  Nominees are active in their careers – the RCN often calls on the expertise and experience of Fellows to help with developing professional policy positions, practice standards and services. Ensuring RCN Fellows are interviewed will help bring a personal view of changes and challenges in nursing at a national level.

From 2013, the exhibition programme co-produced between HONF and the RCN Library and Archive Service has reinvigorated use of and interest in the oral history interviews. Many people are interested in listening to nursing stories but have no explicit reason to search or access the interviews.  Embedding the interviews as a key component of each exhibition helps widen awareness of and access to the collection. The physical exhibitions include listening stands, where visitors can listen to relevant excerpts of the interviews to explore experiences of and attitudes to nursing.  The physical exhibitions are hosted in public spaces in the London and Edinburgh RCN libraries.

Widening access to the interviews has also been incorporated in online exhibitions, such as Aspects of Agenursing older people[5] and Who Cares? A History of Emotions in Nursing,[6] where selected excerpts are embedded in the online version of the exhibition.

As each exhibition focuses on a specific theme or nursing specialism, the incorporation of oral history in exhibitions has also allowed staff and members to identify gaps in the collection. This often helps staff to prioritise which interviews will be created next. For example, in 2018 the Hidden in Plain Sight: celebrating nursing diversity exhibition highlighted areas in which the collection was weak and has encouraged HONF to build awareness of and review their approach to interviews in the future.[7]   As exhibitions are developed the oral history collection is explored with interviews being selected for use; this process also

Representing all members is a core part of RCN values with a commitment to ensuring equality and inclusion.  This is enhanced by a commitment to ensuring regional and four-country representation in all RCN projects/ activities, and by ensuring a reflection of all nursing settings – not just nursing in NHS hospitals.  For example in 2015 the collection was reinvigorated with interviews in a project led by the RCN Defence Nurses Forum, with input from HONF and with the approval of  the Ministry of Defence, on Defence nurses’ experiences from Iraq and Afghanistan.[8]

Nurses as Interviewers and Interviewees

The interviewers are RCN members who are in the History of Nursing Forum.  Many build up long term relationships with each other and with the archive team.  Interviewees are either members of the RCN – one in three nurses are members of the RCN – or are known to HONF members in some way.  Interviewees are often well known as work colleagues, nurse leaders, or as family members.  This gives the collection and interviews a particular dynamic as a community oral history collection.

The interviews between nursing professionals create a very particular dynamic, as the questions and answers come from a shared experience of and respect for nursing.  This includes sharing an understanding of shared experiences and recognition of changes in professional practice over time.  It encourages an increased depth of technical clinical knowledge being shared.  It sometimes leads to sharing instances of less-than-ideal professional practice[9] or the personal experiences when faced with challenging professional situations.  The peer-to-peer interviews encourage in-depth responses that would be unlikely if interviewed by a non-nurse.  This dynamic should be considered when using the collection for research, as peer-to-peer interviewing can sometimes result in ‘obvious’ details being omitted or insufficiently explained.  Supplementing the use of this collection with interviews by historians or heritage volunteers may give a broader understanding of specific research topics.

The interviewees speak to experiences from different levels of nursing practice, from student to registered nurses, advanced practice nurses, educators, and professors, to matrons and directors of nursing.  The collection reflects the gender balance in nursing – men have consistently formed approximately 10% of registered nurses since 1919. The collection’s richness and depth comes not simply from interviews with internationally renowned nursing leaders – the dames, presidents, professors, chief nursing officers and matrons – but by capturing the voices of nurses whose collective professional day to day practice wrought immense change and benefit to all.

Recording the Creation of a Profession (Technology and Timing)

Serendipitous timing is a key dynamic of this collection.  The creation of the History of Nursing Forum and of the RCN historical collections took place alongside the rise of social and women’s history. Whilst nurses took ownership of their history, oral history, which enables communities rather than academic historians to create and write their own histories, was being developed as a method of conducting historical research.  Oral History also enables silences to be filled by recording the experiences of any nurse, regardless of their rank, rather than ‘documented’ nurse leaders who sat in committees or in senior positions.

The timing of the collection is in some ways extraordinary.  In comparison with other health professions – such as the physicians or surgeons – the nursing profession was coming of age in the earlier part of the twentieth century as technological advances made oral history possible.  In comparison to the Royal College of Nurses founded in 1916,[10] the Royal College of Physicians was founded in 1518[11] and the Royal College of Surgeons Scotland was founded in 1505[12] The low-cost recording and listening devices meant that pioneering nurses could be recorded, capturing key decades of experience from a comparatively young profession.  The early interviews in the collection take the history of nursing back to the late nineteenth[13] and early twentieth centuries, giving first hand experiences of the introduction of nurse registration – something the older medical profession never had the opportunity to do.

Stories of Geography and Migration

The HONF collection focuses on collecting nursing stories from across the UK, with a continued focus to ensure stories are collected outside urban centres.  Many women migrated within the UK as nursing enabled them to move for training, with secure housing attached and the promise of a profession and secure employment in the future.  The delight of oral history is that we hear people in their own voices – with their accents and dialects.  This can reflect class as well as geography and gives a richness to our understanding of those who have been nurses over the years.

The collection also records the wider nursing diaspora – the personal experiences of those who came to the UK, but also of those who went out into the world. These interviews show the UK as being part of the centre of international nursing practice – UK nurses led on the formation of the International Council of Nursing and dominated developments of clinical practice throughout the twentieth century.  The collection reflects the changing dynamics between Britain and its colonies, with many nurses coming from the Commonwealth, training in the UK but taking (and transferring their skills) back to their home countries.   As the UK has been a world leader in nursing training schools, university level education, world class research hospitals, and innovative care facilities (such as the hospice movement) these interviews voice how UK nursing shaped the global delivery of nursing practice throughout the twentieth century.

Subjects Covered

The interviews reflect all branches of nursing – adult, child, mental health and learning disability – each of which has their own unique history over the past one hundred years

Specialisms of practice and of care settings are also captured, reflecting the development of nursing in response to advances in medicine.  There is testimony from specialist nurses including in public health, infectious diseases, fever nursing, defence, women’s health, prisons, schools, care homes, cancer, diabetes, older people, district and community, fertility, midwifery, ophthalmic, palliative care, perioperative, and trauma nursing.

The collection focuses on nursing at a critical time in the history of the profession.  Early interviews chart the impact of the 1919 Nurses Registration Act whilst the later interviews record the move to university degree educated nurses.  These interviews provide unique evidence of the experience of daily work for nurses in the nineteenth and early to mid-twentieth centuries which is often absent from published sources.  It also provides important evidence of contentious history, of cultural attitudes and behaviours both of and towards nurses, that are no longer considered acceptable.  These aspects of history rarely exist in the official written records, and where they do exist they are presented as isolated incidents, making oral history a valuable tool in filling these gaps.

The history of nursing is different to, but inseparable from the history of medicine. The interviews iterate the impact of key twentieth-century medical advances on patient care.  Antibiotics, defibrillators, insulin, chemotherapy have all changed how nursing is practiced and the outcomes for patient care.  The interviews reflect nursing practice before vaccines for measles, polio, small-pox or tuberculosis radically changed public health.  The interviews poignantly chart the changes that created increased life expectancy over the twentieth century, recording how conditions that were once untreatable, such as cancer, are now specialist areas of nursing practice as patients are enabled to live healthily with long term conditions.

The interviews speak to events that were at the cutting edge of change in our wider society, whether in tending to the injured in wartime before antibiotics or tending to AIDS patients before the illness was understood.  The interviews also reflect how nursing innovations were shared, both in teaching but also in practice. Changing practices in patient care across hospital and community settings are captured, providing commentary on nurse education, pay and conditions, working patterns, uniforms, clinical practice, clinical innovations, career development, activism, trade unions and workforce mobility. The more personal aspects of nurses’ lives also find their way into the interviews; marriage or children, training, friendships, matrons, nurse leaders, nurses’ homes and social events, government and international connection, are all present providing a social history of nursing as well as. The interviews relate the shift from private health institutions to the NHS, and the challenges of working within, or alongside, a national health service.

The HONF collection also touches on the wider social, political and economic history of the twentieth century, especially regarding the changing position of women in society. Nursing, with midwifery and teaching, was the one of the first professions that was accessible to women. It was, and remains, the largest single profession. This collection of life stories from nurses, brings together new perspectives and challenges our view of the last hundred years. Nursing offered education, training, financial independence and a lifelong career to well over a million women in the UK, and these interviews give voice to those people excluded from traditional histories.

Nursing Oral History in the UK: Successes and Challenges

The RCN is not the only source of oral histories in nursing. As already discussed, in addition to copies of the RCN interviews held at the British Library Sound Archive it also holds a number of other nursing collections. These short projects target geographic and specialist topics and contain comparatively few interviews, including a project focused on a psychiatric hospital in Essex; eight Barbados women who migrated to Britain to become nurses; one defence nurse in the Gulf War; and healthcare workers experiences during ‘The AIDS Era’.

In the future, the British Library Sound Archive will hold NHS70, a large collection of interviews with workers and patients of the NHS, recorded around the time of the NHS seventieth birthday;  and a subsequent project on COVID.[14] The project is led by the University of Manchester with a range of volunteer interviewers who come from a range of backgrounds, not necessarily from one of the healthcare professions.

Oral History projects on wider health care, medical or hospital projects rarely contain a proportionate number of nurses ( see for example the Wellcome Witnesses to Twentieth Century Medicine[15] or NHS70)[16] and there are only a few small nursing-specific oral history projects.  ‘Nurses’ Voices, Memories of Nursing at St George’s London (1930-1990)’ resulted in 50 oral history interviews and a book.[17]  The interviews are physically held in the healthcare faculty of Kingston University but are currently without any access arrangements or sustained archival management, though there are hopes this will change.

Similarly, the Memories of Nursing collaboration between Bournemouth University and the Retired National Nurses Home has resulted in an online collection of oral histories.[18] It sits outside an archive service, and it will be interesting to see how long-term access is maintained in the future – maybe not the immediate future but in twenty- or fifty-years’ time. Many people assume that if something is published on the internet, that it is ‘saved’ and becomes part of the historical record, but the opposite is true.  Web sites must be professionally archived for them to be permanently saved; and digital records, particularly audio-visual files, are unlikely to be captured even when part of a professional web archive due to technical issues that challenge even the experts at the British Library Web Archive.  All these issues mean that community oral history projects which are reliant on access through a published website should make arrangements for permanent preservation of and access to original recordings in collaboration with a recognised archive service.

Another issue users face with oral history projects from specific research projects is that the oral histories often have extended closure periods. The book Nursing through the Years: Care and Compassion at The Royal London Hospital (Pen and Sword. 2018) was based on oral history interviews with 85 nurses, from the 1940s to the 2000s.  These interviews are held at Barts Health Archives, however many of the interviews come with access restrictions.[19] And a similar problem is faced by users of the Learning Disability project led by Bob Gates, which interviewed 31 intellectual disability nurses from England and the Republic of Ireland.  Like other research projects this resulted in a book by Gates, Intellectual Disability Nursing: An Oral History Project (Emerald 2020). Alongside other oral history research projects this was deposited in the RCN Archive but like the Royal London project it was deposited with access restrictions.

Now and The Future

In 2020, the World Health Organisation’s International Year of the Nurse and Midwife there was a global shortfall of 5.9 million shortage of trained nursed.[20]  This has been a significant issue for most nurses in the UK and in 2019 HONF planned an oral history project on ‘Safe and Effective Staffing’ to collect more detailed experiences of staff shortages in 2020.  Sadly, the week that HONF volunteers were being trained in interviewing techniques was also the week that the UK went into Covid lockdown.

The COVID-19 pandemic meant interviews were paused for the first time since 1986.  The lockdowns prevented face to face meetings – and as experience shows us, oral history interviews achieve the best results face to face, both for content and technical results.  Our interviewers and interviewees value the experience of physically meeting, so initially the pause was in line with medical advice.  As the pandemic progressed it became clear that the HONF model of interviewing was stretched beyond capacity.  Existing interviewers and interviewees were pushed to their limits in their day work – many were re-deployed to help COVID patients.  Even retired members re-joined practice via the temporary nursing register, either on wards, as back fill, or as volunteer vaccinators.

HONF also recognised that there was an ethical dilemma in conducting oral history interviews during an emergency.  Experience shows us that people do not forget these experiences, and we will be able to ask questions in the future in an appropriate and supportive way. HONF agreed to step back from interviewing until our interviewees were in a more stable place. Informed consent is an important part of oral history and can be challenging to manage when trauma is involved.

HONF is planning to restart interviews and is looking forward to continuing this legacy.  They are reviewing prompts and considering how best to include prompts on equality and inclusion, and on both safe staffing levels and on experiences of COVID-19.

The core of this collection explores the relationship between nurse and patient, at the most vulnerable times of our lives. To hear why nurses want to become nurses, what they found challenging but also why they continued to nurse through their lives is fascinating.  To be able to hear these stories is to gain a unique insight into the profession; to be part of the team who manages the collection and supports our members in its creation is a privilege.


The full oral history catalogue can be freely browsed online.[21] The Forum is always interested in suggestions for new interviews.  If you wish to nominate yourself or someone else to be interviewed please contact RCN History of Nursing Forum HONF@rcn.org.uk  Also, if you are an RCN member and are interested in becoming an interviewer you can contact them on the same email

If you want to consult this, or any of the other RCN Archive collections please contact RCN Archives archives@rcn.org.uk

Selected Bibliography

The RCN Oral History Collection has supported diverse research projects and publications, including the following publications:

  • Marcus Harmes, Meredith A. Harmes and Barbara Harmes (eds), The Nurse in Popular Media Critical Essays (McFarland: 2021).
  • Bob Gates, ‎Colin Griffiths, ‎Helen L. Atherton, Intellectual Disability Nursing: An Oral History Project (Emerald: 2020.)
  • Chris Nottingham (ed.), The NHS in Scotland: The Legacy of the Past and the Prospect of the Future (Ashgate: 2019).
  • Jane Brooks, Negotiating Nursing – British Army Sisters and Soldiers in the Second World War (Manchester University Press: 2019).
  • Loretta Bellman, Sue Boase, Sarah Rogers, Barbara Stuchfield, Nursing Through the Years. Care and Compassion at the Royal London Hospital (Pen & Sword 2018).
  • Barbara Mortimer, Sisters: Heroic true-life stories from the nurses of World War Two (Cornerstone 2012).
  • Royal College of Nursing,‘Tuppence for the Doctor, Penny for the Nurse’ (RCN: 2010).
  • Stephanie Kirby, ‘Recruitment, retention and representation of nurses: an historical perspective’, Journal of Clinical Nursing 18/19 (2009), 2725-31.
  • Helen M. Sweet, with Rona Dougall, Community Nursing and Primary Healthcare in Twentieth Century Britain (Taylor & Francis: 2007).
  • Sandra Lewenson and Eleanor Herrmann (eds), Capturing Nursing History: A Guide to Historical Methods in Research (Springer: 2007).
  • Jane Brooks, ‘‘Women in-between’ (Strathern, 1995): the ambiguous position of the sister tutor’ Nurse Education Today, 27/2 (2007), 169-75.
  • Rona Ferguson, ‘Recollections of Life ‘On the District’ in Scotland 1940-1970’ in Jan Walmsley, Joanna Bornat, Paul Thompson and Robert Perks (eds), Oral History, Health and Welfare (Taylor & Francis: 2005).
  • Susan McGann and Barbara Mortimer (eds), New Directions in Nursing History: International Perspectives (Routledge: 2004).
  • Maggie Furness, ‘Welsh Voices – Fifty years of oral orthopaedic history’ International History of Nursing Journal;7/3 (2003), 83-93.
  • Betty Kershaw, ‘A proud record: Nurse leaders from Manchester Royal Infirmary’, International History of Nursing Journal 4/2 (1998/1999), 38.
  • Anne Marie Rafferty, The Politics of Nursing Knowledge (Routledge: 1996).


[1] Known as the History of Nursing Society, in 2019 it changed its name to History of Nursing Forum: the purpose and activities of the group remained unchanged.

[2] There are currently 32 Forums that members can join https://www.rcn.org.uk/Get-Involved/Forums.

[3] https://rcn.epexio.com/.

[4] https://www.rcn.org.uk/library-exhibitions/special-collections-oral-history.

[5] https://www.rcn.org.uk/library-exhibitions/aspects-of-age.

[6] https://www.rcn.org.uk/library-exhibitions/Who-cares-emotions-in-nursing.

[7] https://www.rcn.org.uk/library-exhibitions/diversity-exhibition.

[8] https://qa.rcn.org.uk/-/media/royal-college-of-nursing/documents/publications/2015/november/005367.pdf.

[9] For example T/MH/6 Interview with Karl Robins mentions in passing how aseptic technique did not meet the expected standard.

[10] Our history | Royal College of Nursing (rcn.org.uk) (https://www.rcn.org.uk/About-us/our-history).

[11] History of the Royal College of Physicians | RCP London (https://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/about-us/who-we-are/history-royal-college-physicians).

[12] About Us | RCSEd (https://www.rcsed.ac.uk/the-college/about-us).

[13] Such as T/118 Interview with Mrs Paul who starts at University College Hospital in 1894.

[14] https://www.nhs70.org.uk/.

[15] For example the seminar on early heart surgery with twenty-five attendees included no nursing input and did not mention nursing in the seminar. HISTORY OF TWENTIETH CENTURY MEDICINE GROUP (histmodbiomed.org) Nurses were a key part of the surgical team as is indicated in RCN T/310 Interview with Dora Frost.

[16] http://www.histmodbiomed.org/article/wellcome-witnesses-twentieth-century-medicine.html.

[17] Carol McCubbin and Ines Warsop, Nurses’ Voices: Memories of Nursing at St. George’s Hospital, London, 1930–1990  (Kingston University and St. George’s, University of London: 2010).

[18] https://memoriesofnursing.uk/.

[19] https://www.bartshealth.nhs.uk/barts-health-archives.

[20] https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/07-04-2020-who-and-partners-call-for-urgent-investment-in-nurses.

[21] RCN Archive – the full Oral History Collection: Reference Number ‘T’ sorted in reference number order.  https://rcn.epexio.com/search/all:records/0_50/collection%3ARoyal%20College%20of%20Nursing%20Oral%20History%20Collection/sortableRefNo_asc/T* .